NEW DELHI: It will be combined oppositionÂs Gopal Krishna Gandhi versus NDAÂs M. Venkaiah Naidu in the direct contest to elect IndiaÂs 13th Vice-President next month.
The BJP Parliamentary Board which met here on Monday evening put the seal of approval unanimously on the name of Venkaiah Naidu, Union Urban Development and Information and Broadcasting Minister and a senior party leader to be the NDAÂs nominee for the election of the Vice President. The decision was announced by BJP President Amit Shah at the party headquarters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after the meeting, tweeted that he had known the 68-year-old politician for years and had always admired his tenacity and hard work. Mr. Naidu has also closely worked with former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and former Deputy PM and Home Minister L. K. Advani and to some extent has been cast in Vajpayee-Advani mould.
Hailing from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Naidu had begun his career in student politics and in 1980 served as BJPÂs leader of the legislative party, headed partyÂs state unit before moving to the national capital to manage the partyÂs affairs as its general secretary and spokesperson during 1993-2000 period. He also headed the party as its national president between 2002 and 2004. He is currently in his fourth term in the Rajya Sabha, this time from Rajasthan.
Mr. Naidu had ruled himself out in May from the race for either the president or vice-president, saying he was “happy being Usha PatiÂÂ, referring to his wife Usha.
He has honed himself as a good orator who never fails to come up quick, witty phrases and interventions in and outside Parliament. As the Vice-President is also Chairman of the Rajya Sabha where the BJP is still short of a majority, it would be Mr. NaiduÂs managerial and oratorical skills that would come to his aid in running the House. His admirers, well-wishers and friends cut across party affiliations and so his goodwill.
With Mr. NaiduÂs choice as the Vice Presidential candidate, the BJP has also given a broad hint about expanding its footprint in the Southern States. In choosing Mr. Ramnath Kovind as the President and Mr. Naidu as Vice-President candidates, the BJP has ensured that its core leaders get to occupy the top posts in the country. The opposition has claimed that it is contesting the two elections as ideological battle. Given the composition of both the Houses, it is almost certain that Mr. Naidu would succeed M. Hamid Ansari whose second term to the countryÂs second highest constitutional post comes to an end on August 10.
All members of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, including nominated members, form the electoral college for electing the Vice President.
The ruling BJP-led NDA coalition is confident of getting 500 to 550 votes in favour of its Vice Presidential candidate. While in the current Lok Sabha, the NDA has 335 members, making for 62 per cent of the total members, in the Rajya Sabha the ruling dispensation has about 59 per cent members. While Rajya Sabha has 233 elected and 12 nominated members, Lok Sabha has 543 elected and 2 nominated members, taking the total strength to 790.
While the JD (U) has supported the NDA’s Presidential candidate, it has already announced that it would back UPA’s Vice-Presidential nominee Gopal Krishna Gandhi for election as the country’s 13th Vice President. Polling and counting of votes is scheduled to be held on August 5.
The value of each vote in the Vice-Presidential election is one. Ballot paper, containing names of the contesting candidate, is used for the election. The ballot paper does not contain any party symbol. It has two columns Â one containing the name of the candidate and the second for marking the order of preference.
As per the number of contesting candidates, the voters can mark as many preferences against the names of the candidates as they want. The winning candidate has to get a required quota of votes, which is 50% of the total valid votes +1. With three vacancies, the total strength of the electoral college this time would be 787.